John Wheeler: Could Martian life have ruined their planet's atmosphere?
Had these microbes been successful as a life form, they would have sent Mars into an Ice Age climate.
FARGO - A study recently published in Nature Astronomy shows that it is possible that microbial life in Martian soil could have changed the chemical makeup of the Red Planet's atmosphere in a way to have caused the demise of Martian life long before it could have advanced. The study is based entirely on computer modeling and not on an actual discovery of life. The study begins with the premise that four billion years ago, Mars may have had large water oceans under a hydrogen-rich atmosphere.
According to the study, it is feasible that Martian soils at this time could have contained microbes that consumed hydrogen and produced methane in the process. The methane, a heat-trapping gas, would have kept the Martian atmosphere warm. Had these microbes been successful as a life form, they would have consumed enough of the hydrogen to radically change the chemical processes in the atmosphere, plunging Mars into an Ice Age climate.